Christopher Hitchens: Revisionists say that World War II was unnecessary. They're wrong.
That Germany was faced with encirclement and injustice in both 1914 and 1939.p Britain in both years ought to have stayed out of quarrels on the European mainland.
That Winston Churchill was the principal British warmonger on both occasions.
The United States was needlessly dragged into war on both occasions.
That the principal beneficiaries of this were Joseph Stalin and Mao Zedong.
That the Holocaust of European Jewry was as much the consequence of an avoidable war as it was of Nazi racism.
Buchanan does not need to close his book with an invocation of a dying West, as if to summarize this long recital of Spenglerian doomsaying. He's already opened with the statement,"All about us we can see clearly now that the West is passing away." The tropes are familiar—a loss of will and confidence, a collapse of the desire to reproduce with sufficient vigor, a preference for hedonism over the stern tasks of rulership and dominion and pre-eminence. It all sounds oddly … Churchillian. The old lion himself never tired of striking notes like these, and was quite unembarrassed by invocations of race and nation and blood. Yet he is the object of Buchanan's especial dislike and contempt, because he had a fondness for"wars of choice."
This term has enjoyed a recent vogue because of the opposition to the war in Iraq, an opposition in which Buchanan has played a vigorous role. Descending as he does from the tradition of Charles Lindbergh's America First movement, which looked for (and claimed to have found) a certain cosmopolitan lobby behind FDR's willingness to involve the United States in global war, Buchanan is the most trenchant critic of what he considers our fondest national illusion, and his book has the feel and stamp of a work that he has been readying all his life.
But he faces an insuperable difficulty, or rather difficulties. If you want to demonstrate that Germany was more the victim than the aggressor in 1914, then you must confine your account (as Buchanan does) to the very minor legal question of Belgian neutrality and of whether Britain absolutely had to go to war on the Belgian side....
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